May God Have Mercy
On Your Soul
Hugh Thomas

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From: "Positive Atheism"
To: "Hugh Thomas"
Subject: WebMaster: Positive Atheism Index
Date: Wednesday, December 15, 1999

These are pretty serious charges. But at this point they are nothing more than empty statements, with no arguments or evidence. So, we must insist that you back them up.

First, what is your reasoning for calling the lack of religion (a-theism) a religion (theism)? Please explain to us, in detail, how this is not the patent abuse of language that it appears to be on the surface. Perhaps you have devised your own unique meaning for the word religion and have simply forgotten to enclose the word in quotation marks to alert the reader that you intend a different meaning from the conventional uses of the word?

And how are we destroying the American education system? (Be sure to show your work!) Also explain what history we have missed out on, and document your sources so we can verify your statements. (We have had serious problems with one David Barton of WallBuilders who has now admitted that he used false quotations of the American Founding Fathers to make his case that America is a Christian Nation; thus, we are well versed in American history, and how it has been falsely represented over recent years.)

Finally, please document the chain of causality between the existence and work of atheists and "the ills of our nation." Again, be specific.

If you cannot explain these things to us, we will have no choice but consider you just another crackpot who likes to make empty claims of a hateful nature.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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From: "Positive Atheism"
To: "Hugh Thomas"
Subject: WebMaster: Positive Atheism Index
Date: Thursday, December 16, 1999

This is a lie. You will need to retract this or we don't want to hear from you again. We are serious. We have no patience for people who use deliberate falsehood to denounce atheism, and we consider this practice a vicious form of harassment. Mirriam-Webster's Tenth Collegiate Dictionary (the only real "Webster's") has no such meaning for religion but says:

1 a : the state of a religious (a nun in her 20th year of religion) b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religions faith or observance
2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : CONSCIENTIOUSNESS
4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

According to this and except for the archaic definition (#3), religion always incorporates some form of faith or a system of beliefs -- the very things atheists lack. The primary definition (#1) specifies "God or the supernatural" as the object of the faith and belief and gives the example of a nun as someone who is religious. As an atheist, I accept certain claims as likely or valid or true (rather, true according to the currently available body of knowledge or according to my current level of education), and I reject other claims as unlikely or invalid or false (again, false according to current knowledge), but I suspend judgement on the vast majority of claims I encounter.

If you are going to go out of your way to use a false definition for the word religion, and then to accuse atheists of conforming to your false definition, we cannot have a discussion. You are not Humpty Dumpty: you cannot simply make up your own definitions for crucial words and then expect us to take you seriously. (If, out of one side of your mouth you would call atheists religious, would you, out of the other side of your mouth, call a disobedient Christian an atheist?)

Meanwhile, atheism, according to the vast majority of atheistic philosophers, is simply the lack of a god belief, the lack of religion -- for whatever reason.
http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/smithdef.htm
http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/smith.htm

Our magazine is willing to defend what is truly our position, but we will not tolerate being told we hold certain positions that we don't hold, and then being asked to defend those positions that we do not hold. Because you insist on accusing us of holding a certain position, and then asking us to defend that position (which position we reject), I am going to insist on terminating this conversation unless you retract your statement that atheism is a religion and that we hold a "doctrine or belief that there is no God."

George Washington was not a Christian. Thomas Paine was not a Christian. Benjamin Franklin was not a Christian. John Adams was not a Christian. Thomas Jefferson was not a Christian. James Madison was not a Christian. James Monroe was not a Christian. Whom do you consider the founders of the United States of America if these men weren't the founders? (The term "The United States of America" was coined by the anti-Christian Thomas Paine and endorsed by the anti-Christians Thomas Jefferson and John Adams and Benjamin Franklin.)
 

Again, I have no beliefs about gods or the supernatural (Mirriam-Webster's). The lack of a belief is not a belief.

If you wish to claim that one god exists (or twenty) that is your right and your prerogative. All I am doing is listening. If you want me to believe what you say, you'd better be prepared to answer all of my questions without exception and without error. If I catch you in one lie, I get to write you off as a charlatan (and I have noted several falsehoods in each of your letters).

If you cannot answer all of my objections (to the point where they are no longer objections), then I have no business believing you. It is not my responsibility to prove you wrong. You are the one making the claim, not me: if you cannot back up your claim, I can safely ignore you.

Meanwhile, this forum is for atheists. Your letter (your lies) are yet another example (among many, many examples) of why we discourage theists from writing to this forum. In fact, if you read our front page
http://www.positiveatheism.org/index.shtml
you would have seen the warning toward the bottom of the page, asking people not to hold us accountable for things we never said or to defend positions we do not hold.

Again, if you cannot be truthful, we cannot hold a dialogue. You must retract your (false) statement that Webster's defines atheism as a religion. If you don't, we don't want to hear from you any more. We are serious about this: we have no patience for deliberate falsehood.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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His counter-argument? He threaten us with "eternity in a condition worse than any human can imagine" -- of course! -- because he knows that he has no persuasive argument, so he must threaten.

Again, the "Pascal's Wager" bit ("If I am right...") is nothing more than an attempt to determine truth from error by gambling -- by placing bets on what is true or false rather than by trying to discover what is true or false. "Pascal's Wager" also seeks to determine what is true based upon what you want to be true, rather than to seek out what is or is not true; if it's something you strongly desire (such as that you get to go to the Christian Heaven and you philosophical opponents have to burn forever in the Christian Hell), then it's simply got to be true!

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